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Season of War Thondia Review: Warhammer Age of Sigmar 3rd Edition

Something stirs across the realms. Alarielle the Everqueen has unleashed a grand spell across the realms using the power of the Oak of Ages to cause a tidal wave of life energy to bring growth and rebirth to all creatures and vegetation. But it has also given life to the realms themselves. In the mountains of Thondia this energy has reacted with realm stone itself to create something primal and violent that will change the Mortal Realms forever…

In Season of War Thondia, up for pre order today, we learn about this new Incarnate and what has happened since the start of the Era of the Beast! There’s also a pile of new gaming content including an exciting expansion to the Path to Glory system, battleplan generators and a whole pre-made tournament pack!

Massive thanks to Games Workshop for sending us an early copy to of Season of War Thondia to review! If you would like to support the site then why not order your copy through our affiliate Element Games and save yourself some money too!

I have also filmed a full video review of the Thondia book, so if you would rather watch that read this review then check it out below or over on YouTube!

Still with us? Then gather your finest warriors as we travel into the depths of the Realm of Beasts to the land of Thondia…

Season of War Thondia Review

So first of all, what exactly is Season of War Thondia? The book describes itself as part Lore Sourcebook, part story and part rules expansion – and what’s even more exciting is that this is the first part of a series of books! Presumably we will travel to different parts of the Realms as the advancing storyline of 3rd edition continues and learn of what has happened from a narrative point of view, supported by rules and gaming content! I was a massive fan of the Broken Realms series, and already I’m really excited about the Season of War series as this book contains both a massive lore update and gaming content that reminds me of older General’s Handbooks that all types of player will want to get their hands on! So without further ado let’s take a look through the book!

The Lore

One of the most exciting things for me about these types of books is the chance to see the evolving and continuing storyline for Warhammer Age of Sigmar. Games Workshop have really embraced making sure that the lore advances in their non-battletome books and Thondia continues this by giving us a look at the first storyline since the 3rd edition of the game came out. We are quickly brought to speed on the story so far and the events that led us to the current “season” in Ghur. The Realm of Beasts as expected by the name is filled with monsters, and we are given a history of the most impactful monsters who have shaped the realm leading us all the way to the current Era of the Beast. It’s a nice catch up for any long time fans and will act as a decent primer for anyone new to the hobby without having to work their way through all the books that have come before.

The book is actually very much like a sourcebook you would see for a tabletop RPG with excerpts and letters from various people across the realm sharing news or rumours of things that are currently happening, multiple maps and write ups about the locations and landmarks of Thondia with some history and detail about them for any budding adventurer to the realm, and most excitingly even a full in-universe bestiary about the creatures that live in the realm along with full pencil drawings and researched notes from Herold Agravan one of Sigmar’s Scribes Excelsian who has been tasked with chronicling the flora and fauna of Ghur! This in particular was a pleasant surprise and I would love to see this continue across the other books in the series, building into a full encycolpedia and travel guide into the Mortal Realms!

In addition to all this we also get the next part of the Age of Sigmar story telling of the birth of the Incarnates and the effect they are having on the people of the realms. There’s some really cool stuff in here and some massive pointers to who the next antagonist of the Age of Sigmar story will be – I know a lot of people like to read this for themselves, so I’ll stick the spoilers at the very bottom of this post – but some old Warhammer Fantasy fans will be interested in what is revealed here! Needless to say, the story was really enjoyable and had me pumped to see what happens next!

In total this lore section contains around 50 pages of content and forms a massive part of the book, and really shows how dedicated Games Workshop are to developing and furthering the lore of the Age of Sigmar!

New Rules

While new core rules are probably the smallest part of the new book (Only accounting for 4 pages!) I feel these are something that is going to have a massive impact to games of Age of Sigmar! What we get here are updates to the core rules in the main book and actually expands upon what was built in the 3rd edition book.

In Seasons of War Thondia we get the rules for Incarnates. As told within the lore segment of the book, when Alarielle’s grand spell of life went off during the Broken Realms series she actually had greater reaching impact that she has actually planned for. The realms themselves are alive, and her spell has caused the essence of each realm (The Realmstone) to form together into intelligent (and very deadly) entities known as incarnates. Essentially the essence of the realm given physical form. These are not spells or invocations, but creatures birthed from the realm itself! While this is happening across all of the realms (no doubt with further Incarnates to follow in future supplements) the first one that the inhabitants of the realms encounter is the Krondspine Incarnate of Ghur, named after the Krondspine Mountains where it was first discovered.

From a rules point of view an Incarnate is a new type of unit that can be included in any army. You can only take a single Incarnate, and it bonded to a Hero as a type of unique enhancement (as this is an enhancement I suspect this means they cannot be bonded to named characters, but expect an FAQ to clarify this point!) If you include an incarnate you cannot include any other allies, however the incarnate itself can exceed the allies limit meaning you could take it in small games if you wish (At 400 points it will be a big chunk of any army!)

What’s unusual about an Incarnate is that does not have a wounds characteristic – instead it has levels within an Incarnate State.

The Incarnate starts at Level 2 and in each Battleshock phase you roll 3D6 and compare that to the number of wounds allocated to the incarnate – if you roll under the number of wounds suffered then the Incarnate drops a level, and if it ever reaches level 0 then it is destroyed. At the end of each battleshock phase all wounds allocated to an Incarnate are removed – so on average you need to do 10 wounds a turn to it over the course of 2 turns to destroy it. Any abilities that slay a target also cause it to drop a level – so for example if you hit it with the slayer of kings and also managed to cause it to roll under its wounds in the battleshock phase then you could potentially kill it in a single turn.

However, the Incarnate also has ways of gaining levels. Every monster it slays causes it to increase a level, and it also has a special monstrous rampage it can use when in combat with an endless spell – you roll 2D6 and add your current level, if you beat the casting value the endless spell is dispelled and you go up a level, if you fail you instead lose a level!

It also has something called a “Domination Range” that can affect models within an aura based on it’s current level. ALL units within Domination (friend or foe) can re-roll run and charge rolls and cannot retreat! Also all Wizards that are not bonded to the Incarnate subtract 1 from casting, unbinding and dispelling (A Wizard bound to it instead gets +1 to these if within domination range) and finally all friendly units within domination range and within 3″ of an enemy model receive an all out attack command if one is issued to the Incarnate as long as they have not already received a command that phase! This is massive and allows you to get + to hit to a massive chunk of your army if they all charge in together – you have to watch out though, this isn’t a choice, if you have not given them another command they get All Out Attack regardless if you want to give it to them or not, so just make sure to issue any other commands you want to first!

From a combat point of view its pretty impressive with some decent rend and damage (And adds it’s current level to the number of attacks for each weapon!)

Where things get interesting is that if the bonded hero is slain then the Incarnate immediately turns wild. You still have full control over the Incarnate and can move it within the movement phase, but from a rules point of view it treats your entire army as enemy units – so for example if one was within 3″ of one of your units when the bonded character dies then the Incarnate would be engaged with your unit! A wild Incarnate must charge any enemy unit or endless spell within 12″ so with poor positioning you could end up having to charge this absolute beast into your own lines – so make sure to move it far out of the way in your movement phase!

It’s not all bad though, when in wild form it gets +1 to hit and can run and charge (And reroll both the run and charge!) so it is fairly easy to keep it away from your own units.

This is an amazing new unit and I’m excited to see the other Incarnates (The lore also talks about multiple different kinds of Incarnates from within the same realm too, leaving the door open to lots of these in future!)

We also see a return of Realm Rules in the book with a Thondia Region of War bringing back the old Ghur feature of there being a wild monster in the centre of the board! Before the priority roll, players roll off to see who will have command of the monster that battleround, adding a bit of chaos to proceedings! Maybe not one for super serious tournament play, but certainly a feature we’ll be using in friendly games. And yes, you can choose to use an Incarnate as this random monster! These rules are also backed up with a Thondia specific Mysterious Terrain chart to add some Ghur flavour to your games.

Open Play

For Open Play we get 6 pages of a new Open War mission generator to create games in Thondia! If you have seen our review of the recent Mission Pack for Warhammer 40k then this is a similar deal – you get a number of charts to randomly generate up a mission for a game! You randomise a deployment map, a victory condition, a twist that changes some of the core rules to add an unexpected element to the game and finally a ruse that gives each player a bonus that is secret until the conditions for it are fulfilled! This is a fun addition to the game that allows you to quickly generate a game and just roll some dice!

Narrative Play

As big fans of both Crusade and Path to Glory, the most exciting part of this book for me was the Narrative Play section! And as the biggest hit of Narrative content so far this edition (over 30 pages!) it certainly did not disapoint!

So the big thing on offer here is the Thondia Path to Glory Battlepack – this finally expands the Path to Glory options from the core book and gives us loads of exciting things to do! Firstly, players can now build an outpost in Thondia if they win a game using the new battlepack. The number of outposts you can build depends on your stronghold size, and I suspect that as this series of books continues you will want to pick and choose which realms you place your outposts in to fit with what you want your army to do during your Path to Glory campaign. Essentially this allows you place an outpost in this new region in order to gain access to a number of benefits – Thondia veteran abilities, prime monster abilities and even the option to send your units on a scouting expedition!

Thondia Veteran Abilities are new “level up” abilities that are themed around Ghur, so expect things like doing extra damage against monsters or increasing your attacks at the cost of making you easier to be hit!

If you add a monster to your order of battle while you have an outpost in Thondia then there’s a chance that you actually add a “prime monster” instead – you make a dice roll and on a 5+ you can pick one of 6 prime abilities to give it! There’s some fun stuff here such as making it have a terrifying roar that reduces bravery of nearby units, or being able to heal up D3 wounds in your hero phase. All of these abilities are once per game, but add some flavour to show that your particular monster is a special one found only in Thondia!

Thondian scouting expeditions are fun and reminiscent of some of the post battle antics in Mordhiem or Necromunda – you pick a unit and send them out to explore, get lucky and they might earn glory or renown or even find a rare artifact! However get unlucky and they may be wounded by a Maw Crusher and barely escape with their lives! I really live stuff like this and hope we see more locations to explore in future volumes!

We also get some new territories to add to your control!

6 brand new battleplans are included that double the number of Path to Glory missions from the core book! We have been hungry for new Path to Glory battleplans since 3rd edition launched, and these add a refreshing Thondian themed flavour to games!

There are also 2 new quests that we can undertake – the first of these allows a hero to earn the right to bond an Incarnate to them – it’s a tough one requiring them to slay 3 enemy heroes themselves, however once completed they get to add the Incarnate to their order of battle ready to use it’s might against their enemies!

The second new quest is the most exciting one however, it allows you to forge a new hero on the Anvil of Apotheosis! Yes, the Anvil is back and better than ever! You pick between 10 and 40 points, and over a series of games you can earn quest points in order to cover the destiny required. Once you have met the total you can then create a new character equal to that destiny cost (Don’t worry, if you dont play Path to Glory you can still create Champion heroes for 20 destiny and Conqueror level heroes for 40 destiny, and there’s even a points converter allowing you to use them in Matched Play games that allow their use!)

If you have seen any of the old versions of the Anvil of Apotheosis then you know what to expect here – essentially this is the ability to create your own characters using a hefty 10 page construction guide! You pick your core ancestry (Everything from Aelves, Duardin and Stormcast to Grots, Gor and Skaven to even more out there stuff like Vampires, Daemons and Dragon Ogors!) from a list of 25 possible races covering all factions in the game! You then get to pick weapons, mounts, animal companions and a “class” from Fighter, Wizard or Priest which determines their core attributes. Finally you flavour this by adding special rules, abilities and stat increases. All these components have different destiny costs tied to them, so its simply a case of taking the points you have and using them to create your dream character!

Want to make a Lumineth Priest who rides a dragon? Sure! go for it! What about a Dragon Ogor Wizard who regenerates wounds each turn? Why not! Fancy a Clan Moulder flesh-stitcher who can heal his creatures? You can do that too! There’s so many options here and I can’t wait to see what the community creates and the awesome conversions that will be made to represent them!

That’s not everything for Matched Play however, as players also get a full battlepack that allows them to play through the events of the storyline! This is presented much in a similar format to the Broken Realms books with suggested “historical” forces, consequences to the events of battles and warscroll battalions geared around the forces that took part!

Matched Play

But why should Campaigns only be done for Path to Glory? Seasons of War Thondia also contains an entire bespoke campaign driven tournament that allows any number of players to fight over 5 brand new missions over the course of a weekend to determine the mightiest force in Thondia!

This is an absolutely amazing idea and would be an excellent tool kit for people wanting to run a Thondian themed event! As a self contained Battlepack we also get custom Core Battalions (Fancy a new one drop battalion featuring an Incarnate?), brand new Grand Strategies and Battle tactics that are designed specifically for this event! It’s like a Warhammer World campaign weekend that you can run in your own local group! Everything you need is included such as all 5 of the battleplans and a custom score sheet for logging your results after each game!

Any tools that allow players a kick start on running their own events should be celebrated and I love that they have fully leaned into the Thondia theme for this one!

Summary

So what do I think about Season of War Thondia and is it worth the money (£32.50 rrp)? Personally, this is the kind of book that really gets me excited about the hobby. It takes the best elements of the Broken Realms series with exciting narrative developments and full campaigns to play through, along with the very best things we have seen from The General’s Handbook such as Matched Play tournament packs, The Anvil of Apotheosis and a full Path to Glory Battle Pack! Add to this the table top sourcebook elements and the rules for a brand new type of unit and you get a jam packed supplement with stuff for every type of player!

My only mark against this book is how the Incarnate is currently only available with a £135 scenery set – it’s admittedly a very cool scenery pack and I’ll most likely be picking it up to add to the collection, however it is a shame the Incarnate isn’t available separately for players who want to add this awesome unit to their armies – especially if this is a trend that continues with the incarnates from other realms.

I’m very excited to restarting our Path to Glory campaign, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for the Season of War series!

Season of War Thondia is up for pre order today and released Saturday 16th April.

Games Workshop provided Sprues & Brews with a copy for review purposes

SPOILERS…. (Scroll down)

So, there’s some very exciting stuff that is revealed within the book. Firstly, it seems that exposure to the Incarnates turns both mortals and Stormcast into mindless frenzied beasts – we see some of the first people exposed to one look very similar to Beastmen – and speaking of Beastmen…

One of the characters in the book is a Great Bray-Shamen named Ghorraghan Khai who claims to be the commanded by the spirit of Morghur the Shadowgave (Old school fans will recognise him from the World that Was!)

Khai sees a kinship between the Beastmen and the Incarnates and wants to use that to bind them all to their will. And by using the combined power of the Incarnates Morghur through his puppet Khai wants to bring about the Era of the Beast. That’s right, the era is not named after Kragnos or the forces of Destruction – it looks like the Era of the Beast is all about the Beastmen! Could the Beastmen and Morghur himself be the main antagonist in this story arc? It would be very cool to get some updated Beastmen and a new battletome! Only time will tell!

We also get multiple mentions of the Khorne Daemon General Doombreed, who I am now fairly sure will get a model when the Blades of Khorne get their next releases!

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